Frauds often manage to stay one-step ahead of consumers Identity theft is not just a pain in the wallet anymore. It can also ruin your credit, get you fired, or land you in jail. Dramatic? Yes, but true. As consumer awareness about the importance of privacy protection has increased in recent years, so has the sophistication of the methods criminals employ to obtain and misuse our personal information for their own benefit. Here is a closer look at different types of identity theft that are currently being committed by thieves.
Financial Identity Theft
This is the most common, and well known, form of identity theft. One way or another, a criminal might get a hold of your financial information such as your credit card numbers. The "luckier" victims find out early on and resolve the problem quickly with the credit card company. However, less fortunate identity theft victims remain unaware of the fraudulent activity for much longer, only to find out the criminal has opened a new credit card and utility accounts or maybe even leased a car or apartment in their name.
Criminal Identity Theft
Criminal identity theft is when someone impersonating you commits a crime in your name. With this type of crime, the thief does not want your money; he wants your clean record and good name. Instead of landing himself in jail, he hopes your information will help get him out on bail.
In this case, when the criminal gets pulled over, arrested, or investigated, he gives all of your data instead of his own. Then, when he gets out on bail, he simply skips the court date or does not show up to serve his sentence. All the while, fees and penalties are incurring in your name, and you will never know it until law enforcement runs your plates and finds out there is a warrant out for your arrest. Alternatively, you might be denied a job, only to be told you failed the background check based on "your" criminal record.
Medical Identity Theft
Who would want your bunions, bad back, and family history of heart disease? Someone who does not have medical insurance and desperately needs an operation. That person might be desperate enough to steal your personal insurance information and use it to receive care under your name. Recent pushes toward keeping medical records online have resulted in a rise in medical identity theft, and there are serious medical and financial issues that come along with it. First, you will have to deal with the uncovered portions of often, high hospital and doctor bills the thief has racked up in your name - not to mention the frightening possibility that incorrect medical information of the identity thief becomes attached to your medical records.
As always, it is a smart idea to get proactive by:
- Keeping Social Security numbers private. Do not carry cards in your wallet, and question whether schools, sports teams, and medical providers really require this information to enrol or participate.
- Shredding documents containing sensitive information: It is always better to shred papers containing private data than disposing of then in the garbage or recycling.
- Requesting credit reports annually. Though not all types of identity theft will show up on them, it is still a good idea to check reports and question any activity reporting a different address, birth date, or other incorrect personal information.
- Contacting Social Security: Run a check against your name and Social Security number each year to ensure there are no work history records that do not belong to you.
- Our monitoring system helps keep you safe by searching and monitoring a wide variety of sources, both financial and non-financial, to help identify potential fraud. This is key because 22% of identity theft victims report their identity was used in ways other than financial, such as for committing a crime or filing false tax returns. So do not let the identity thieves outsmart you. Get proactive protection today.